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January-February 2012

Vol. 37, No. 1

Children's rights: Sign CRC petition to president

Bolivia girl

A multilateral human rights treaty that promotes the rights of all children worldwide, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the UN on November 20, 1989. It recognizes all children's rights to develop physically, mentally, and socially to their fullest potential, to express their opinions freely, and to participate in decisions affecting their future. The CRC provides a vision of children as individuals and as members of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to their age and stage of development. The U.S. played a pivotal role in the long process of drafting the CRC and thus in the world for children. It incorporates many of the standards first found in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the CRC is a volunteer-driven network of academics, attorneys, child and human rights advocates, educators, members of religious and faith-based communities (including Maryknoll), physicians, representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), students, and others. The Campaign's current effort is to send a strong message to President Obama, urging him to submit the CRC to the Senate for ratification. Below is the text of the petition to the president; you can find the petition to sign here. Please sign before the end of January.

As a U.S. citizen who supports U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), I urge you to make it your priority to send the CRC to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent by November 20, 2012.

Around the world, the CRC is an important tool to promote protections and rights for the most vulnerable and marginalized children, and to support the importance of families and parents. I believe that it will strengthen our nation's ability to help children overseas, and provide a framework to help us better address challenges facing children and families here at home. Mr. President, you are a champion for human rights and for children's rights. As you know, the United States stands with Somalia as the only holdouts from ratifying the CRC, the most widely accepted human rights instrument in history. The conspicuous absence of the United States as a party to the CRC undermines our nation's international leadership role on behalf of children and families.

The United States cannot move forward on ratification, however, unless the President submits this treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent. Although administration officials have promised to review the treaty, there is no specific timeframe for submitting it to the Senate. I ask you to submit the CRC to the Senate by the next Universal Children's Day. The United Nations and its member countries observe this day annually to promote the welfare and protection of the world's children. By sending the CRC to the Senate by November 20, 2012, Mr. President, you will demonstrate your commitment to the values enshrined in the treaty.

November 2012 marks 23 years since the UN adopted the CRC, and 17 years since President Clinton signed it – I think that's more than enough time to review this important treaty.

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